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Philippines on alert after 99 die
By Manolo B. Jara June 30, 2018
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MANILA: A top government health official on Friday sounded the alarm over the rising number of deaths arising from a flood-borne disease called leptospirosis that already claimed the lives of 99 Filipinos as of June.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the 99 fatalities came from the total 1,030 leptospirosis cases reported nationwide from January to June this year and represented a 41 percent increase from the total recorded for the same period in 2017.

Duque attributed the surge in the cases nationwide to floods due to weeks of unabated heavy rain as well as the huge piles of uncollected garbage not only in Metro Manila but also in the country’s big towns and cities.

“The 41 percent increase...compared to the same period last year is a cause for alarm,” Duque said, explaining the disease is incurred mainly by people wading into floodwaters carrying the bacteria from wastes and urine from animals, particularly rats.

“But we don’t see much of a problem because our (government) hospitals are capable of of managing the cases,” he assured, adding the disease carries symptoms similar to those of flu like high fever, body ache and diarrhea.

Metro Manila, composed of 15 towns and cities with a total population of close to 12 million, accounted for nine of the 99 leptospirosis deaths reported in June, with the other regions also suffering a surge in cases in the other regions like Caraga, Zamboanga Peninsula and Davao in Mindanao as well as Western Visayas, according to Duque.

Dr. Rose Marie Liquete, the chief of the state-run National Kidney and Transplant Institute based in suburban Quezon City, Metro Manila confirmed Duque’s statement as she revealed that they were forced to convert their gymnasium into an “emergency ward” to accommodate the rising number of leptospirosis patients.

Health experts warned that a person afflicted with even simple skin abrasion can be infected by the leptospirosis bacteria by wading unprotected into the floodwaters like failing to wear rubber boots.

Experts also suggested that people who have done so could help prevent from incurring the disease by thorough washing of their feet with soap and water

State weathermen reported that in June alone, many parts of the country including Metro Manila went under water due to the monsoon season as well as weather disturbances that brought unabated heavy rains, especially to low-lying areas.

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